Peabody winner Joshua Levs to explain failures of U.S. work-first culture

Joshua Levs

At a time when “fake news” has become so prevalent that it’s a national scandal, monikers such as “Mr. Reality” and “Truth Seeker in Chief” are refreshing.

Entrepreneur and former journalist, columnist and host Joshua Levs began earning these nicknames, as well as that of “Senior Everything Correspondent,” after he jumped from NPR to TV.

“There were lots of lies on the air all the time,“ Levs said. “My goal was to fix this problem. I created a position — the ultimate fact-checker.”

Sharing insights from his nonpartisan fact-checking about the modern family, Levs will get the Chautauqua Women’s Club-sponsored Contemporary Issues Forum season-long speaker series rolling at 3 p.m. Saturday in the Hall of Philosophy.

His topic mirrors the title of his book, All In: How Our Work-First Culture Fails Dads, Families, and Businesses — And How We Can Fix It Together.

“Most of what we hear about men is wrong,” Levs said. “It’s a myth. We’re keeping our structures in the ‘Mad Men’ era. The workplace needs a big reality check.”

When Time Warner Cable denied Levs — who had carved out a niche as a fatherhood columnist — fair parental leave when his third child was born prematurely and his wife was ill, he filed a lawsuit and won. This experience not only enhanced his understanding of modern families and the realities of fatherhood, but also transformed him into a leading advocate for modern families.

“Afterwards Time Warner came to me and said, ‘Give us some steps,’ ” Levs said. “They revolutionized their policy.”

He said he will give Saturday’s audience very practical advice.

“I will talk about laws, policies and gender-based stigmas,” he said.

As the pre-eminent global expert on issues facing modern fathers in the workplace, Levs works with corporations, organizations, universities and others to develop policies supportive of men as caregivers. He regards such policies as a critical step toward providing equal career opportunities for women. The United Nations has honored him as a UN Global Champion of Gender Equality.

“CEOs know about the problem with needing more women leaders,” Levs said. “But truly, they don’t understand the importance of men at home. Getting companies educated is one of my biggest challenges. Work-life balance and caregiving is gender neutral.”

Top businesses, prestigious institutions and major summits around the world have invited Levs as their keynote speaker. His motivational TEDx Talk explores challenges and benefits of “achieving the impossible,” which Levs has accomplished through his pioneering entrepreneurship — creating his own career — despite seemingly insuperable odds.

“It’s such a wild ride,” Levs said. “There’s always something new.”

For instance, late last month he was in Washington, D.C., testifying at the Congressional Democratic Women’s Working Group hearing on the urgency of paid family and medical leave.

“I was the one guy,” Levs said.

Levs grew up in Albany and graduated from Yale College — where a foundation has established a scholarship in his name — two months before the opening ceremony of the 1996 Summer Olympics.

He said that he followed his instincts and approached NPR in Atlanta. He told them that he would do anything they wanted if they would take him on, including emptying wastebaskets. Before the Olympics even began in July, Levs started reporting on it and soon became an NPR reporter.

During the 20 years he reported for NPR and CNN, Levs developed and honed his fact-checking skills. Among the many journalism kudos he has received are six Peabody Awards, two Edward R. Murrow Awards, Atlanta Press Club Journalist of the Year, and awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists and National Association of Black Journalists.

“What we’re seeing now is unlike the lies before,” Levs said. “It’s a whole new breed of lying. It used to be that politicians would find ways to come up with claims they thought they could get away with. Now, Trump doesn’t even try. It’s pure, blatant lying.”

Levs echoes the viewpoint of other renowned journalists. For instance, in the April 3, 2017, edition of Time Magazine — the issue with the stark black and red cover titled “Is Truth Dead?” — Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs opined about wrestling with a president and others who cannot be taken at their word. Gibbs, a lifelong Chautauquan, will be speaking in the Amphitheater during Week Eight under the theme, “Media and the News: Ethics in the Digital Age.

Time is among the many magazines, journals and websites for which Levs writes. Others are Money, Fortune, The Atlantic, the Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur, Quartz, Quora and Medium.

Tags : Atlanta Press Club Journalist of the Yearchautauqua women's clubContemporary Issues ForumEdward R. Murrow AwardsJosh LevsPeabody AwardsUN Global Champion of Gender Equality

The author Deborah Trefts

Deborah Trefts is a policy scientist with extensive United States, Canadian and additional international experience in conservation. She focuses on the resolution of ocean and freshwater-related challenges and the art and science of deciphering and developing public policy at all levels from global to local.